Hucknall's hot early season form no shock to skipper Sam Johnson

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Hucknall Cricket Club may be the surprise package in the Nottinghamshire Premier League so far this summer – but their early success is no surprise to captain Sam Johnson.

Last weekend they ended local rivals Papplewick & Linby's unbeaten start to make it four wins in six and go fourth.

“It's been a good start and I think we've done pretty well,” said Johnson.

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“I think we have surprised a few people around the league but it's not surprised me.

Sam Johnson - not surprised by his side's fine start.Sam Johnson - not surprised by his side's fine start.
Sam Johnson - not surprised by his side's fine start.

“I know we've got a good group. We were good value for the points again on Saturday and I was delighted with how we carried out our game plan.”

Hucknall won the toss and batted and made an excellent 291 in their 50 overs.

Dan Martindale led the way with 74, Sam Johnson with 68, Nolan Benson 51, Hassan Chaudry hitting 37 and Matthew Roberts 27.

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After losing Brent Williams on 27, Louis Bhabra (56) and Callum Mckenzie (48) put on 76 for the second wicket.

A flurry of wickets then left Papplewick on 181-6 only to see Curtis Mitchell (79 not out) and Ben Bhabra (50) come together to add 97.

Once Bhabra was gone, overs ran out for the visitors as they fell 11 runs short.

“There were good scores down the order and I think that is really important,” said Johnson

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“In times gone by we have relied on one or two batters to do a lot of the work but now we are in a position where guys are contributing throughout and everyone has got a defined role of what is expected of them. At the moment we are carrying that out and doing well with it.

“The game was never won until the last ball. They started pretty well, we had a good spell in the middle, and then they batted well near the end.

“The way their numbers seven and eight batted together was really good for them, putting on almost 100.

“But when you have runs on the board I back our bowlers to execute.

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“Although they made it close near the end I always felt calm and confident.

“I think we were always 10 runs ahead of them in terms of match-ups”

Despite their good form, Johnson is making no predictions.

“It is early in the season and there is a lot of cricket to be played, so I am not looking too far ahead yet,” he said as they prepared to face Gedling & Sherwood (Bank Holiday Thursday) and leaders Cuckney on Saturday.

“I love the fact that we are in form. It is testament to the lads who have worked really hard since we came back training in the winter. But my sole focus at the moment is Gedling & Sherwood. The league table will look after itself,” said Johnson.

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“The next game is the most important of the season and, with the start we have had, that is clearer than ever. Gedling will be a really tricky game and we need to be absolutely ready for it.

“Cuckney are a really good side and I have nothing but admiration for the way they do things.

“I really like them as a club. They are the ultimate challenge. They are top of the league and running away with it. They are red hot favourites to beat everyone they play at the moment.

“But we go there with no fear whatsoever. We go there with respect as they have been a good side for a long time. We have a good side too so bring them on.

“If we do what we have been doing all season there is not reason why we can't have a really good crack at them.”